How many dice?

The figure below shows an “unfolded” view of a typical 6-sided die (d6), used everywhere from board games to casinos:

An "unfolded" view of a standard d6.

An “unfolded” view of a standard d6.

Each of the six faces is uniquely labeled with the integers 1 through 6.  But that’s not all; note that the values on opposite faces always sum to 7.  This is a standard arrangement applied more generally to other types of dice as well.  My set of Platonic solid dice– with n sides for n \in {4,6,8,12,20}— all have this same property.  Let us call such an n-sided die standard if all opposite faces sum to n+1.

Problem 1: How many different standard 6-sided dice are there?  That is, in how many ways can we label the faces with distinct integers 1 through 6, with opposite faces summing to 7?

Problem 2: What if we relax the standard (constant opposite sum) property?  That is, in how many ways can we label the faces with distinct integers 1 through 6, with no other restrictions?

Problem 3: Same as Problem 2, but for the other Platonic solids (d4, d8, d12, d20)?

I think these are great examples of problems for students that straddle whatever line there may be between mathematics and computer science.  Problems 1 and 2 can be solved as-is “by hand.”  (And they are interesting in part because the answers are perhaps surprisingly small numbers.)  But the usual mathematical machinery involved just counts the number of dice in each case; it’s an interesting extension as a programming problem to actually enumerate (i.e., list) them, display visual representations of them, etc.

Problem 3 is more challenging; the machinery is the same, but the larger numbers involved require some amount of automation in the housekeeping.

Now for what I think is a really hard problem motivating this post (Edit: although after a response from a reader in another forum with a very elegant solution, perhaps this is not as difficult as I thought it might be!):

Problem 4: Same as Problem 1, but for the other Platonic solids– that is, how many different standard (d4, d8, d12, d20) are there, with constant opposite sums?

 

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